After 20 years of boating in the south of France, Princess owner Robert Prevezer decides to relocate to southern Italy

Weather warnings

Our crew for the cruise down to Naples consisted of my wife, Sara, and two grown-up daughters, Emily and Gail. Our son, Ben, would join us later.

We had delayed our departure by a day after consulting the weather forecast. All the websites we’d checked, including Windfinder, Meteo France and Meteo, were predicting strong winds with gusts of up to 40 knots for our original departure date.

Having crossed the Bay of Genoa on a number of occasions, we knew how treacherous it could be and weren’t going to risk spoiling our adventure on the very first day.

The following day was less windy but overcast, and there was still a residual swell from the previous day’s pounding. Nevertheless, we felt it was safe to set off and made good progress. By the time we reached San Remo, the clouds had closed in and it had started to rain.

Not the most auspicious start to the voyage! We pulled in to Port Sole to review the situation only for the clouds to lift and allow us to continue on our way.

Princess 54 from France to Italy

The dramatic approach to Portofino’s hidden harbour

The Bay of Genoa is truly vast and we chose to cross from Cape Mele to Portofino. Fortunately, the sea flattened as we crossed, and with the help of our Garmin GPS linked to the Raymarine autopilot, we soon started to relax and enjoy the ride.

We were rewarded with a small pod of dolphins playing in our bow wave, helping to pass the time until the Portofino promontory finally began to emerge on the horizon.

However many times we visit Portofino, it never ceases to amaze and enthral us. Tucked away between rolling hills, you’d never know it was there until you’re almost upon it, when suddenly an opening appears from behind the rocks to reveal a magical harbour surrounded on one side by colourful houses and waterfront restaurants, and on the other by cypress-strewn hills leading up to the castle.

Because we were early in the season (April), it wasn’t overcrowded and we were warmly welcomed and offered a prime mooring against the harbour walls.

That feeling of waking up in a brand new port is always special, and when it’s Portofino outside the porthole, it’s truly magical. We took advantage of the moment to wander around the village before the ferries arrived to disgorge their swarms of tourists.

Princess 54 from France to Italy

Robert enjoying life at the upper helm

With time pressing on, we set sail soon after under grey skies, but at least we were promised calm seas for the journey. The real bonus arrived a short while later when a pod of ten dolphins spent a delightful half hour playing around the boat and continued to follow us for some time afterwards.

As soon as they left, the clouds closed in, the rain arrived and the northerly wind increased. Inevitably the crew retreated inside, but given the reduced visibility, driving from the inside helm position wasn’t an option, so I was left alone on the flybridge, peering through the gloom and rain-soaked glasses for the next two hours.

Inevitably, this leg of the journey took us past the Cinque Terre, a string of five pretty little harbour villages clinging to the hillsides on some of the most beautiful coastline in Italy – none of which we could see! Not quite how I’d imagined this magical day of cruising to be.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Weather warnings
  3. 3. Sunny outlook
  4. 4. Home stretch
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